European Shares Decline On Downbeat Earnings; ECB Decision Eyed

European stocks fell on Thursday as downbeat earnings from the likes of WPP, Unilever, Mercedes Benz and BNP Paribas added to concerns around elevated bond yields and the Middle East tensions.

Investors also await the ECB rate decision and President Christine Lagarde’ press conference for clarity on the outlook for rates.

The central bank is expected to keep its key interest rate unchanged at a record 4 percent high against the backdrop of cooling inflation and faltering growth.

The pan-European STOXX 600 was down 0.9 percent at 431.18 after ending little changed with a positive bias on Wednesday.

The German DAX gave up 1.4 percent, France’s CAC 40 fell about 1 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 was down 0.6 percent.

German luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz slumped 5.3 percent after saying it expects pressure on car sales margins. Peer BMW tumbled 2.8 percent and Renault declined 2.5 percent.

Chip systems manufacturer Aixtron rose about 1 percent after reporting a significant increase in third-quarter net profit and revenue.

Meal-kit maker HelloFresh plummeted almost 12 percent after reporting revenue below expectations for the third quarter.

French lender BNP Paribas fell 3.8 percent after posting a fall in third-quarter net profit on higher expenses.

Food group Danone rose 2 percent after lifting its 2023 revenue growth forecast.

Sodexo jumped 6.3 percent. The catering and food services group said it plans to list its voucher and benefits division Pluxee early in 2024.

Carrefour, Europe’s largest food retailer, surged 4 percent after reporting higher third-quarter sales and backing its full-year targets.

Energy stocks such as BP Plc and Shell were moving lower as crude prices declined amid diplomatic efforts to prevent the Israel-Gaza conflict from spreading.

British lender Standard Chartered plunged 11 percent after reporting a sharp drop in quarterly profit, partly due to $900mn of China-linked charges.

Precision instruments manufacturer Renishaw fell about 1 percent after a profit warning.

Consumer goods giant Unilever tumbled 3 percent after its new CEO laid out plans to simplify business.

Advertising giant WPP lost over 3 percent after cutting its outlook for the second time in as many quarters.

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